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Framing and Arguing Your Case in the Supreme Court: Tips for Certiorari and Oral Argument

(660 reviews)

Produced on September 13, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h 1m
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

The Supreme Court grants review in about one percent of the cases in which petitions for certiorari are filed. Sometimes, the same question is denied many times before it is finally granted. Successful petitioners often have laid the groundwork for Supreme Court review from the early stages. And once a petition has been granted, convincing the Supreme Court to rule in your favor can depend on unparalleled oral advocacy in front of a very hot bench. This program, taught by Ruthanne Deutsch and Hyland Hunt of appellate boutique Deutsch Hunt PLLC, will use examples from the 2016 Term to illustrate strategies for persuading the Court that your case cries out for Supreme Court intervention, and tips for arguing your case in front of the Justices.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Explore best practices for framing a case to increase the odds of Supreme Court review, using examples from the 2016 Term
  2. Discuss common techniques for opposing review if you are seeking to preserve an appellate victory
  3. Gain key tips for oral advocacy applicable to any court, illustrated by examples of argument from some of the country’s top oral advocates during the 2016 Term 

Credit Information

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Ruthanne Deutsch

Deutsch Hunt PLLC

Ruthanne Deutsch is a founding partner at Deutsch Hunt PLLC, an appellate boutique. After more than a decade as an international development economist, Ruthanne had a dream that she was a lawyer. Within a year she was enrolled in law school, after which she clerked for the Federal Circuit and then for the United States Supreme Court, and became an appellate litigator.

Dedication to sharp analysis and effective writing have been the constants throughout Ruthanne’s professional life, whether in her first incarnation as an economist, or her current vocation as an appellate lawyer. Her legal experience spans the public, private, and academic clinical sectors, and includes appearances before the Supreme Court of the United States and federal and state appellate courts throughout the country. She has particular expertise in the areas of federal jurisdiction, federal practice and procedure, public international law, federal consumer protection law, and patent and tort cases involving legal questions of first impression.

Ruthanne has briefed scores of appeals in the federal courts of appeal and state courts of last resort, including dozens of briefs at the merits and certiorari stages in the Supreme Court of the United States. She has twice argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and has argued before the D.C. Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit. She has also argued before the Maryland Court of Appeals (on a question certified by the Fourth Circuit). In addition to her work on merits and amicus briefing, Ruthanne has considerable experience litigating complex procedural and dispositive motions before various courts of appeals. She frequently counsels clients on appellate strategy before complaints are even filed, on forum selection, claim crafting, and preservation of appellate issues; and has also provided post-judgment counseling.

Ruthanne served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for Judge Timothy B. Dyk, of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  Immediately before co-founding Deutsch Hunt PLLC, she served as a Clinical Teaching Fellow and Supervising Attorney at the Appellate Litigation Clinic and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she supervised briefing, argued cases, regularly participated in moot courts, taught a seminar for judicial interns, and co-taught appellate advocacy and federal practice. She maintains her connection to the Law Center through pro bono collaboration with the Appellate Litigation Clinic, participation in moot courts at Georgetown's Supreme Court Institute, and facilitating mindfulness training for law students in the Law Center’s Lawyers in Balance program.

In addition to teaching and practicing appellate advocacy in the academic setting, Ruthanne has litigated appeals in the private and public sectors. Her private practice experience includes stints in the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Groups of two DC law firms. Her public service was in the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission, where she briefed and argued appeals and dispositive legal motions, reviewed complaints, liaised with other agencies and the Office of the Solicitor General on Supreme Court matters, and counseled enforcement staff on legal issues. While at the FTC, she received an Official Commendation for Meritorious Service for her “outstanding contributions to the Commission’s litigation efforts.”

Ruthanne studied International Relations and Economics at Yale University, and received a Ph.D. in Economics in 1994. During and after graduate school Ruthanne worked as an international development economist, first with the World Bank, and then with the Inter-American Development Bank. She was involved in project work as well as policy research and strategy development, primarily in the areas of poverty reduction, social sectors reform, early childhood development, and promoting gender equity and social inclusion.

Ruthanne studied law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she was Executive Articles Editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. She graduated from the Law Center summa cum laude in 2004. A decade later, she returned to Georgetown as a clinical teaching fellow with the Georgetown Appellate Litigation Program, and received an LL.M. in advocacy, with distinction, in 2016.

Hyland Hunt

Deutsch Hunt PLLC

Hyland Hunt is a founding partner at Deutsch Hunt PLLC, an appellate boutique. Hyland has been in the business of analyzing complex questions and mitigating uncertainty her entire professional life. After years as an intelligence officer in the Air Force, Hyland decided that she wanted to shift careers while continuing to work in a problem-solving, analytical field—and appellate litigation proved to be a perfect fit.

Hyland has practiced before the Supreme Court of the United States and federal and state appellate courts throughout the country. Her practice focuses in particular on administrative law and cases that lie at the intersection of administrative law and other doctrines (e.g., health care and employment law), which often feature a federal agency on the other side of the “v.”

Hyland has extensive experience in handling complex appeals, including developing strategy and authoring briefs. She has prepared over 60 appellate briefs at every level, including more than 20 briefs at the merits and certiorari stages in the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as briefs in the federal courts of appeals and state appellate courts. In addition, Hyland has argued appeals before the Sixth Circuit (twice), the D.C. Circuit (twice), and the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Beyond her work on merits and amicus briefing and arguments, Hyland has an active practice counseling clients on responding to and addressing changing statutes and regulations, particularly in the health care industry.

Hyland served as a law clerk for Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and then for Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court of the United States. Before founding Deutsch Hunt PLLC with Ruthanne, Hyland was an associate and counsel in the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, in the firm’s Washington, D.C. and Dallas offices, where she was the recipient of the 2012 Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Pro Bono Service Award.

Hyland received her A.B. magna cum laude in government from Harvard University in 1998. After college, she served as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force before studying law at the University of Michigan Law School. She received her J.D. summa cum laude in 2008 from Michigan, where she was on the editorial board of the Michigan Law Review. Hyland has also continued her Air Force service as an officer in the Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps.


Megan B.

best CLE I've attended all year!

Charles M.

Excellent Presentation

Anna H.

Excellent presentation, very helpful

Carl K.


John G.

Your presentation was excellent. Many years ago I had several cases that went to the Supreme Court. I wish I had listened to your presentation beforehand.

Andrew B.

Excellent CLE for any appellate practitioner who is seeking leave to appeal and engaging in oral argument in any appellate court.

Ali W.

I would love to see more courses by these two! They were engaging and informative, and provided attendees with helpful, practical tips based on their insider knowledge of SCOTUS.

Barbara C.

This is the best online CLE course that I've ever taken.

Andrew S.

Absolutely fabulous course! One of the very best of all the courses. Thank you!

Kenneth W.


Craig H.


Annmarie C.

Helpful information about how petitions for cert are reviewed. The oral advocacy tips are applicable to any oral argument, particularly in an appellate court. I will use them!

Diane V.

Excellent presentation

John N.

The presenters were outstanding, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Michael S.


Keith B.

Quite excellent and credible given presenters qualifications and experience at The Court!

Laurie P.

Very good presenters & interesting topic!

Michael W.

Very good speakers

Ira L.

They were excellent.

Bryan S.

One of the best I watched through Lawline. Very informative. Great use of slides. Overall, a really good CLE.

Michael A.

The best part of this was their suggestions about oral argument. Brilliant, and applicable to any appellate arguments, state or federal. Very helpful to my practice.

David C.


David W.

Excellent practitioners and presenters. These two were very effective. Their experience demonstrates credibility to their excellent advice and pointers.

Mark H.

Excellent presentation!

Mary S.

Great course. New info for me

Adrian L.

These presenters were wonderful. I enjoyed listening and learning.

Rosa G.

This was very informative.

Emma T.

This is the best course I’ve seen on Lawline. So well done and helpful.

Michael Y.

Great tips for oral advocacy generally--even if you don't think you'll ever appear before any high courts, there's a lot in this presentation that will be helpful if you appear before any court.

Edward P.

This was a very interesting course.

Kevin S.

The best lawline presentation I have ever heard, thank you

Randolph D.

The two person format is effective

Ed P.

Two very sharp practitioners with a lot of good points.


Very informative.

James B.

Exceptionally thorough and informative.

Emma B.

Fabulous CLE! Thank you for providing it.

Kate T.

This was really interesting content and the lecturers were excellent.

Jennifer Clayton G.

This is one of the best lawline presentations I've seen.

Edward V.

Not everyday you as an lawyer would argue before the Supreme Court, but this seminar provided great information and advice on doing so.

Alicia M.

This was my favorite lawline course that I've completed.

Lorena E.

The information was well-organized and the pace was perfect!

William Henry H.

Thank you!

Rahul M.

The program was fantastic. Thank you for taking us inside the world of the Supreme Court.

Loren S.

Excellent Presentation. Great practical information.

Dana M.

This was a well-thought and thorough presentation.

Anthony V.

Very helpful on a general level as well as for the specific topic.

Frederic M G.

Very useful even beyond the specific focus of the course.

Julia G.

Nice program

Rebecca W.

Very interesting topic, presented by two knowledgeable and well spoken presenters. Thank you.

Leo T.

Great course.

Lisa C.

Excellent speakers. Kept me fully engaged through the entire program.

Todd S.

Best Lawline CLE I've seen thus far. The faculty was very good.

Jill T.

Great speakers and interesting look at Supreme Court practice.

Amy H.

Presenters were very knowledgeable and interesting.

patrice i.

This presentation has shaped my thinking for a pending appeal. I thank you all!

Joanna T.


Emi K.

The tips on general oral advocacy were extremely insightful. Thank you.

Eric Z.

very impressive, excellent presentation. Speakers were obviously extremely well versed and their inside knowledge was insightful.

yasmin m.

very informative and very nice presentation style by the speakers.

Betsy S.

Clear, interesting, and informative.

Jack B.

Good presentation.

Laura c.

Great presentation!

Stuart J.

the best part was advise on mooting.

elizabeth c.

They were FANTASTIC! What a pleasure, and I learned so much.

Jamie K.

Phenomenal program. Excellent presenters.

Melissa R.

I've taken many Lawline courses, and this has been my favorite. Excellent presentation.

william c.


Terry B.

Excellent presentation

Lisa W.

Excellent and helpful CLE. Thank you!

Christopher B.

Very interesting

Lee H.

Excellent program!! They really know their stuff, both in terms of getting Cert granted and presentation of oral argument!! Lots of cogent and helpful insights!! And their presentation was impressive--very relaxed and confident!!


outstanding program

Therese C.

Excellent and very interesting!

Luke W.

One of the most interesting CLEs on Lawline that I've heard!

Patricia R.

One of the best Lawline presentations I have seen.

Patricia L.

Enormously helpful & informative - I want to hear more presentations by this team on appellate advocacy!

Allison T.

I found the discussion to be very useful.

Ronald B.

Great content and great presentation.

Marc P.

Well done

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